Where The Stars Still Shine
Read from my TBR pile
For more than the last decade, Callie and her mother have lived life permanently on the run. They never stay in one place too long, always up and moving in the dead of the night or at a moment’s notice, sometimes skipping out on rent owed. Sometimes they have a car, other times it’s a bus as far as their money will take them. From the time she was a small child, this has been Callie’s life. She’s never been to school. She’s never had a library card. She doesn’t have her license.
During another flee, Callie’s mother is pulled over for a broken taillight and the cop runs the plates only to discover that they are stolen. From that she is then arrested for kidnapping and Callie meets the father she can barely remember, the one that she has been led to believe doesn’t want her. She goes with him to Florida where she lived as a little girl and although she manages to dredge up a few memories, most of this is foreign to her. She meets her brand new family and sees what might have been her life – friends, a job, a place of her very own, a boy who likes her for herself and not because he wants something.
But Callie is torn as well. She doesn’t know these people, not really. Her mom has been her whole world for as long as she can remember and Callie feels horribly guilty without her. She doesn’t know that she will ever fit in here in Florida. Callie has a choice to make – she can give up everything she’s ever known and place her trust in people she doesn’t know yet, and hope that it doesn’t all end horribly. Or she can pack up and run again, just the way they’ve always done.
About eighteen or so months ago I read Trish Doller’s debut novel, Something Like Normal and was totally taken by it. When this one was released I ordered it straight away but it got a little buried under other books. I recently rediscovered it when fiddling around with my YA shelves and immediately resolved to bump it back up to the top of my TBR pile.
Where The Stars Still Shine deals with child kidnapping but Callie is almost an adult when the crime is revealed to her and her mother is arrested for it. Many years ago she took Callie from her father after their separation and ran and they’ve been on the run ever since. For Callie, she didn’t know it was a kidnapping, she’s been told a lot of other things by her mother and she has to adjust to this news and also has to deal with her feelings for both of her parents. She can’t hate her mother, especially when it becomes apparent that her mother has a form of mental illness – but she’s bitter and angry at her mother for taking her as well, for allowing things to happen to her on the run and for denying her opportunities. At the same time she loves her and she knows her – she doesn’t even know her father and she has to try and get to know him as well as fit in with his family, wife Phoebe and two young sons Tucker and Joe.
It’s not just her family that Callie has to deal with, including the whole extended Greek gatherings. She also has to learn how to have friends, something that’s never happened before and deal with meeting boys and negotiating entirely new relationships. Callie has never had a boyfriend but she’s not inexperienced in some ways. Despite finding a boy that makes her feel things, perhaps for the first time in that way, she still suffers nightmares and flashbacks about the abuse she experienced at the hands of someone way back in her past. Because of her mother’s poor record with relationships, being in one is a learning curve for Callie and she makes some mistakes. And she’s not the only one.
Where The Stars Still Shine is written with sensitivity and care, touching on childhood abuse and its possible lasting effects as well as tackling mental illness in a way that is deeply sympathetic and not judgmental. I enjoyed the character of Callie’s father and his grief, relief and awkward attempts to balance being the father he was denied and knowing that it was really too late for that kind of parenting now. The best he could hope for was making Callie feel welcome and comfortable and hope that she would want to stay with him. I think this was really well done and his and Callie’s interactions felt very genuine. They both made mistakes (Callie had a habit of running away from her problems, probably a learned behaviour ingrained from childhood) and at times they stumbled along. It wasn’t perfect and they had to work at it.
My only real issue with this one is that the romance felt very instalove in the beginning and throughout most of the book. I think it was fleshed out in the end but it took a long time for them to get to know each other and share those intimate things about themselves. I know their relationship grows and changes and develops and that’s good but the attraction in the beginning seemed very rushed and there was no real showing of chemistry. But apart from that I loved all facets of this book and it further cemented Trish Doller as such a gifted voice of contemporary young adult/new adult literature.
Book #64 of 2014